Before answering this question. Please read this explanation to the very end. Also, please do not try to direct me to another Web site. I want to know what YOU think, & when you respond, please base your conclusion using Holy Scripture, NOT the beliefs of church leaders or the early church fathers. I say this, because since Holy Scripture is Inspired (God breathed), then Holy Scripture CAN'T be wrong, because we KNOW it is from God. Thank you in advance, & I look forward to your responses, & encourage you to carefully consider mine. In Christ, Steve.
Having been raised Catholic & having studied the Scriptures, I have come to the conclusion that 'the Word of the Lord' (the Bible) supports the belief that the 'brothers & sisters' of Jesus in Matthew 12:46-50 & Matthew 13:54-57 are Jesus' half-brothers & sisters, & NOT referring to His disciples, cousins, step-brothers & step-sisters, or ‘spiritual’ brothers & sisters:
First, Matthew 13:54-57 gives us their names: James, Joses (Joseph), Simon, & Judas (Jude). They are clearly brothers, since they are part of a family unit, along with their father, 'the carpenter' (Joseph) & Mary, their mother.
Second, at the cross, Mary the wife of Alphaeus (aka: Clopas), who is the mother of James the Less & Joses (Joseph) are mentioned (Matthew 27:55-56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25-27). James is the son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3). However, James & Joseph are never paired in Scripture as 'brothers' of Simon & Judas (Jude). So, they are 'not' the 'James & Joseph' in Matthew 13:54-57.
Third, at the cross Salome (Mark 15:40) is the sister of Jesus' mother (Mary) (John 19:25-27) & the mother of Zebedee's sons (Matthew 27:55-56). Zebedee's sons are James & John (Mark 10:35). However, James & John are never paired in Scripture as 'brothers' of Simon & Judas (Jude). So, this 'James' is 'not' the same 'James' in Matthew 13:54-57.
Third, since the 'James' who is the 'son of Mary & Zebedee' & since the 'James & Joses (Joseph)' who are the sons of 'Mary & Alphaeus (Clopas)' are NOT the same 'James & Joses (Joseph)' who are the brothers of Simon & Judas (Jude) in Matthew 13:54-57, then these 'brothers' in this verse are sons of Mary & Joseph, & are Jesus' half-brothers.
Fourth, in Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus compares His 'believing brothers' by pointing to his disciples INSIDE, with His 'non-believing brothers' OUTSIDE (compare to John 7:3-5 & Psalm 69:8).
Fifth, Jesus makes a distinction between His brothers & His BELIEVING disciples (John 2:12).
Sixth, in Acts 1:13-14, Luke names the remaining 11 disciples along with Jesus’ brothers, who are with Mary & the women. Collectively, they are all ‘part’ of the ‘120 brethren’ at Pentecost.
Seventh, in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Jesus appears to Cephas (aka: Peter) & then to ‘The 12’ (Disciples)(v.5), then Jesus appears to James, then to all the apostles (v.7). ‘Apostles’ does not refer to ‘The 12,’ because ‘apostles’ simply mean ‘messengers’ or ‘sent ones,’ & can refer to people other than ‘The 12,’ such as Barnabas & Paul (Acts 14:14). Therefore, since this ‘James’ does not refer to ‘The 12,’ but ‘another James,’ then this ‘James’ is the brother of Joseph, Simon, & Judas (Jude) in Matthew 13:54-57.
Eighth, these 'brothers' in Matthew 13:54-57 aren't Jesus' cousins, because the Greek words for 'cousins' ('synggenes' & 'anepsios') used in Luke 1:36 & Colossians 4:10 are not used in Matthew 13:54-57, or anywhere else by Jesus to give us the impression that His 'brothers' in this verse are actually His cousins.
Ninth, the Greek word for 'brothers' & 'sisters' (adelphos & adelphe) can mean LITERAL blood brothers & sisters, such as James the BROTHER (adelphos) of John, & Martha & Mary the SISTERS (adelphe) of Lazarus.
Tenth, Paul names James as ‘the Lord’s brother’ (Galatians 1:19), who is with the other 2 ‘Pillars’ of the Church – Cephas (Peter) & John (Galatians 2:9). This ‘James’ is the brother of Jude (Jude 1:1), who wrote the Epistle of Jude. This ‘James’ went on to write the Epistle of James (James 1:1). This ‘James’ was the leader of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 15:13), but was not James, the brother of John, because he was already martyred (Acts 12:2). Therefore, this ‘James & Jude (Judas)’ are the same ‘James & Judas (Jude)’ in Matthew 13:54-57, who were also brothers of Joses (Joseph) & Simon, & half-brothers of Jesus.
So, using the Word of the Lord (the Bible), which cannot be wrong, & comparing it to church tradition (which 'can' be wrong), the most correct understanding of Jesus' 'brothers & sisters' in Matthew 13:54-57 is that they were his LITERAL half-brothers & sisters. Therefore, Joseph kept Mary a virgin UNTIL she gave birth to Jesus (Matthew 1:24-25), & then had at least 6 children together (4 sons & at least 2 'unnamed' daughters).